Qatar‘s place was confirmed from the time they have been introduced because the host nation, and they’re going to undoubtedly be joined by South Korea, Iran, Japan and Saudi Arabia — who all efficiently negotiated their approach via the qualifiers.
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For the second version working, Asia may have a document 5 representatives on the World Cup and it may but be extra — with the winner of the United Arab Emirates–Australia playoff then because of do battle with South America’s personal fifth-placed qualifier Peru with considered one of two last tickets to the event up for grabs within the inter-confederation playoffs.
There will now be just below eight months for groups to organize for the World Cup, with restricted worldwide home windows to work out any kinks on the sector — so what’s a few of the deficiencies Asia’s hopefuls must tackle?
For the primary time in over 4 a long time, Qatar will grace the World Cup — a milestone they’ve been making ready for since they gained the rights to carry the event again in 2010.
Qatar have made nice enchancment in latest instances, evident of their AFC Asian Cup 2019 triumph in addition to their run to the semifinals of final yr’s CONCACAF Gold Cup as a visitor crew, however the World Cup is a distinct proposition altogether.
Being the hosts include a sure strain and it’s value noting that, in 22 earlier editions of the World Cup, solely as soon as has a house aspect didn’t make it previous the primary stage (South Africa in 2010).
If Qatar embrace the expectations that shall be on them, and rise to the event, it might be a debut to recollect. But when they’re burdened by it, their maiden World Cup journey might be over earlier than they understand it.
Having one of many world’s finest gamers to name considered one of your personal can by no means be a foul factor, however it could actually additionally result in an unhealthy overreliance — which is what’s what South Korea should keep away from with Son Heung-min.
Whereas he has not precisely needed to drag them over the road within the Asian qualifiers, the Tottenham star is normally the one which comes good when the Taegeuk Warriors are most in want of inspiration.
There are others who’re absolutely able to easing the burden on Son’s shoulders. Having risen to prominence at Pink Bull Salzburg, Hwang Hee-chan is but to completely get going since shifting to the Premier League with Wolves, whereas Hwang Ui-jo has loved a few creditable campaigns with Ligue 1 outfit Bordeaux however is hardly prolific at worldwide degree — even when he does carry far more to the crew than simply objectives.
Having Son as Plan A isn’t an issue. An absence of a Plan B might be.
Iranian soccer is presently reaping the rewards of a golden technology, with a major variety of internationals not simply plying their commerce in Europe however — within the case of Porto‘s Mehdi Taremi and Bayer Leverkusen‘s Sardar Azmoun — starring in a few of the largest leagues.
Having narrowly completed behind heavyweights Spain and Portugal within the 2018 group stage, Group Melli look to have an actual shot at reaching the knockout spherical but all is probably not properly in paradise.
Late final yr, Taremi was dropped from the aspect following a reported battle with coach Dragan Skocic. Whereas the 2 have since buried the hatchet, rumours now recommend that there’s friction between Croatian tactician and Azmoun, with some reviews even claiming Skocic shall be sacked in the end.
With all that expertise able to shine, Iran can in poor health afford have their World Cup ruined earlier than it begins by disharmony throughout the ranks.
Showing on the World Cup for a seventh consecutive version, and having reached the Spherical of 16 final outing, getting out of the group stage — barring being dealt a horrible hand in Friday’s draw — needs to be the minimal expectation for Japan.
Nonetheless, as they’ve proven all through the qualifiers, there’s a real concern that this Samurai Blue outfit is missing in firepower.
Having ended his time in Europe to return to Vissel Kobe, who’ve made a woeful begin to the 2022 J1 League season, Yuya Osako stays Japan’s principal principal in assault and — to his credit score — continues to supply Japan lots. In opposition to top-level opposition, nevertheless, there’s suspicion he poses a restricted risk.
If the Japanese are to have extra strings to their bow, it’s crucial that somebody like Takumi Minamino — a extra multi-dimensional attacker — raises his consistency and output, or that coach Hajime Moriyasu begins to present extra publicity to fellow Europe-based weapons equivalent to Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda.
Fairly merely, the jury is out on whether or not Saudi Arabia have sufficient big-time expertise to deal with taking part in on world soccer’s grandest stage — even when their performances within the Asian qualifiers have been spectacular.
That’s not to say that each one the exploits their gamers have had taking part in at Asian Cups and within the AFC Champions League — the continent’s premier membership competitors — depend for nothing, however the World Cup is undoubtedly a step up.
To their credit score, barring a gap day 5-0 loss to hosts Russia, the Inexperienced Falcons did give a decent account of themselves in 2018 as they narrowly misplaced 1-0 to Uruguay earlier than beating a Mohamed Salah-led Egypt 2-1.
Whether or not or not this restricted publicity on the highest degree is sufficient to take them additional than the group stage of Qatar 2022 stays to be seen.